TOKYO (Reuters) - World player of the year Lionel Messi arrived in Japan on Wednesday ahead of an international friendly that will earn Argentina a $200,000 cash bonus.
The Barcelona forward’s involvement in Friday’s match in Saitama, however, remains in doubt after he injured an ankle in a league game last month.
Messi swept into Tokyo wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, sporting stubble after the long flight, but signed autographs for waiting fans after clearing customs.
The 23-year-old’s friendly appearances for club and country has boosted ticket sales for matches in the Far East and the Japan Football Association (JFA) are desperate for him to play.
Local media reported that the Argentine FA will be paid $200,000 for bringing Messi to Japan for the game, which will be the home side’s first under new Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni.
Reporting by Alastair Himmer. Editing by John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com